(Photo by Josh Houck)

This autumn I attended a gathering where I met a wonderful group of people who were unfamiliar with the work of Rolling Ridge Study Retreat (RRSR). They asked questions like, “What happens at Rolling Ridge?” and “What do you do there?” Put on the spot, I gave a brief description of the different facets of the life of this place. I noticed that during the conversation my mind kept circling back to a Rufus Jones quote that reminds me of the type of movement that often emerges here:  “I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.”

What happens at Rolling Ridge? In retrospect I wish I could have handed my new friends Lindsay’s eloquent essay that she shared at the annual meeting in November describing a year at Rolling Ridge: “Maples danced auburn in golden light, sweet potatoes swelled under vines, fires hummed in the woodstoves, it rained chill and dank, the Shenandoah went over its banks, the gravel road was awash in torrents. The air dried out, leaving brown leaves carpeting the forest floor. The woods quieted, the hush pierced from time to time by the pileated’s call. The old willow stump sprouted pale green fronds, crocuses pushed up through the dusky landscape, water flowed over creek beds, peepers made mad music, sweet bird notes fluttered on the air, forsythia bloomed. A magnificent “three sisters” oak (with three trunks growing together) came down over the path to the Meditation Shelter. Two of the trunks split from the third. As the wine berries rioted by fences and along the trails, the third trunk fell.  Goldenrod bloomed in the meadow; the rain stayed away. The wind picked up, the leaves of the tupelos turned ruby red, and the year turned full circle.”

What we do here? As the natural world around us morphed from one season into the next, many people came to these woods. The reason it is tricky to summarize neatly the activities and ethos shared here is because our collective work is ongoing and ever-changing. Like a quilt, there is a patchwork of partner groups, retreat participants and neighbors who share a love for this place and who arrive over and over again with hearts and minds open to whatever there is to encounter. At RRSR our collective work touches on the relational (like shared meals & life-changing conversations), the practical (like repair work & balancing budgets), the internal (like retreats, silence & paying attention), the ecological (supporting the exciting vision of the Rolling Ridge Conservancy– previously known as the RR Foundation), and the educational (workshops & events)– and often all at the very same time! In these ways, Rolling Ridge continues to serve as a safe place for communities of faith and other moral concerns to explore new frontiers and pursue new possibilities for the well-being of the world.

Your generous donations help keep RRSR active, inviting and hospitable. Funds will be used to maintain buildings, roads and meeting spaces, as well as toward our commitment to financially support the renewed vision and work of the Conservancy. Portions of the donations will also be used to keep the costs of programming affordable for all those who want to come on retreat. I hope you will join us in contributing what you can, to support this place in the year to come.

(Photo by Josh Houck)

Our Network of Friends
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At least 270 people from all 11 partner groups stayed in the Retreat House on their weekends or weekdays. Interns from Sojourners and New Community youth had additional retreats. Multiple individuals and couples came out for personal retreats. Several large groups of friends and extended families used the House for reunions around holidays. We gathered for another fun Fall Fest beneath the peak foliage. Together Partner Groups provided nearly 400 hours of service  around  RRSR. Thank you!

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In 2019 we completed several updates and improvements to facilities. Volunteers re-tiled the bathrooms at the Retreat House and installed new shelving; we graded interior roads with new gravel; the gorgeous hand-built benches at the Meeting Circle were completed; we put in supports and framed the roof for a new Retreat House woodshed.  On the community side, solar panels generated power credits and we repaired a waterline leak.

(Photo by Josh Houck)

Study & Retreat
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Retreats connected old and young with wonder, nature, and the sacred

    • Return of the Light – Restorying for the Winter Solstice
    • Voices of the Wells – Restorying the Heroine’s Journey 
    • Girls Arts to the Ridge
    • Children of the Earth
    • Sound & Silence – Embodying Prayer Through the Sacred Rhythms of Drumming, Chant, Nature, and Silence
    • Finding the Gold in the Darkness – The Way of Soul in Troubled Times 
    • Mandalas for Mindfulness
    • 2 workshops on basket-making
    • 3  foraging plant walks

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Our umbrella organization formally changed its name to the Rolling Ridge Conservancy. The Conservancy has shared details of a comprehensive Forest Stewardship Plan to protect the fragile ecosystems on the land and RRSR has committed to supporting these efforts.

Should you choose to support the ongoing story of Rolling Ridge financially please know that your tax-deductible donation is very much appreciated: Donate Here